“Cut in 2 seconds!” Is the Ottolock really that easy to snip?

Posted by on December 12th, 2018 at 11:05 am

Screen shot of LockPickingLawyer video. Watch it below.

UPDATE, 5/24: The Lock Picking Lawyer just released another video on Ottolock’s new “Hexband” model.

The Ottolock by OTTO Design Works.

A popular YouTuber has created a bit of a public relations headache for a local company.

After a very successful Kickstarter campaign in fall of 2016 where they raised over $350,000 (their goal was just $50,000) from nearly 4,000 individuals, OTTO Design Works launched their Ottolock with the wind at their backs. The Wilsonville-based company says over 100,000 Ottolocks have been sold (at $60 to $85 depending on length) and they can be found at bike shops and outdoor gear retailers nationwide.

“There was at least $30,000 worth of high-end road bikes outside the owners’ line of sight, right outside a big city, secured by a lock I suspected could be cut in a matter of seconds.”
— LockPickingLawyer

When we reviewed the lock in July 2017 we said the company had hit a “bike security sweet spot” by making something that would keep your bike safe for quick stops without taking up much room or adding weight to your training kit.

Since then we’ve heard some concerns about the lock’s strength, but nothing overly alarming. After all, it’s not marketed as a u-lock replacement and it’s not intended as a primary lock. The idea is to, “protect against theft opportunists,” the company’s website says.

But when a YouTuber known as LockPickingLawyer uploaded a video last week showing an Ottolock being cut in two seconds, I was shocked. I wanted hear from OTTO Design Works. Since it’s a locally-made product that we’ve reported on in the past, I felt the community deserved to know more.

The video itself is relatively straightforward. It features narration by Mr. LockPickingLawyer and he easily slices through the lock with a pair of tin snips in one try, just as the title of his video advertises. He says he decided to test the lock after seeing them being used at a local coffee shop. “I was stunned,” he says in the video. “There was at least $30,000 worth of high-end road bikes outside the owners’ line of sight, right outside a big city, secured by a lock I suspected could be cut in a matter of seconds.”

As you can see in the video, it appears he was right.

“We haven’t been able to replicate that outcome or speed in any testing.”
— Jake VanderZanden, Ottolock

LockPickingLawyer has amassed 270,385 subscribers and his videos have received over 38 million views since June 2015. The videos show him defeating all types of locks from many different major brands like Kryptonite and Abus. The Ottolock video is one of his most popular and is on its way to 700,000 views.

What struck me about LockPickingLawyer’s video is that Ottolock has a video of their own on YouTube (from April 2016) that shows them trying to cut a lock with tin snips without any success at all. In marketing materials, the company says the lock is “very cut-resistant”.

I contacted OTTO Design Works President Jake VanderZanden yesterday. He contends there’s simply no way the lock could have been cut that easily without a lot of preparation. “It’s highly produced or under extremely controlled or tuned conditions,” he said, “We haven’t been able to replicate that outcome or speed in any testing — either two years ago [when product launched] or recently.” VanderZanden said when they try to cut a lock with snips, the band flexes and folds inside the jaws of the tool, making it very difficult to cut.

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“Very cut-resistant.”

However, VanderZanden added they’ve never claimed the Ottolock is cut-proof. “We’ve cut them under certain conditions ourselves,” he said, before falling back on their marketing claims that the product is, “Highly engineered and more secure than a cable lock.” “It’s an excellent product for its intended use and target customer.”

Since both a YouTuber known for defeating locks and a company who sells them are hardly unbiased parties in this conversation, I found other perspectives.

Officer Sanders said he and his team warned OTTO Design Works that their lock would be vulnerable to tin snips, which according to Sanders, are carried by about half the criminals they arrest.

Portland Police Bureau Officer Dave Sanders is the lead of the PPB’s Bike Theft Task Force and has countless hours of street-level experience with bike thieves and their aftermath. When I told him about the video and asked for his opinion on the Ottolock he didn’t mince words. “That lock should not be used,” he said. “It’s maybe a smidge better than nothing at all. No more secure than a cheap cable lock.”

Officer Sanders said he and his team warned OTTO Design Works that their lock would be vulnerable to tin snips, which according to Sanders, are carried by about half the criminals they arrest.

In Ottolock’s defense, the urban commuter isn’t their target market. The Ottolock is intended for racer-types on training rides who want something that will fit in a jersey pocket and will secure their bike during a quick bathroom stop. Other target markets are using it as a secondary lock for wheels or other sporting equipment.

But beyond strength concerns, Officer Sanders said the Task Force worries that — despite the marketing — people would use Ottolocks in place of a more capable u-lock. “I want to be supportive of those who are trying to do something about the bike theft problem,” he said, “but I’m having a hard time with this one because we keep hearing about thieves targeting these locks.” And experienced thieves, he added, are probably better than the LockPickingLawyer because they cut locks every day.

Sanders’ concerns seem warranted. As this BikeIndex stolen bike listing reveals, someone had a Surly Ogre stolen from outside the Fred Meyer store in Hollywood a few weeks ago. “It was locked with just an Ottolock (foolish and careless of me) since it was a quick 20 minute shopping trip,” the victim wrote.

Asked what he thought of the video, bike theft expert and BikeIndex owner Bryan Hance said, “I think had they [OTTO Design Works] not used some slippery language and pitched it with all sorts of verbiage like ‘steel’ and ‘very cut-resistant’ they wouldn’t be getting as much blowback as they are. They’re pretty good about saying, ‘This is not as good as a u-lock’ but the reality on the ground is people are using them like ‘real’ locks.”

I also contacted LockPickingLawyer. I told him OTTO Design Works claimed there was no way he cut the lock on the first try. “I think the video speaks for itself,” the YouTuber wrote via email this morning. “The cut was made on my first attempt on a new Ottolock, right from the package. There was no testing or preparation off camera.”

Of the 100,000 Ottolocks that have been sold, VanderZanden says they’re aware of only about 25-30 bikes that have been stolen. “That said,” he added, “we’ve had an equal amount, if not more people, who’ve had their bikes saved because of Ottolock.” (You can see photos of the “saves” on the company’s website.) Even so, VanderZanden announced the company is working on a new product that is much more secure. It will be marketed as a more secure lock and should be released in 2019.

As for the video, LockPickingLawyer said he thinks it’s caused a stir because of, “The shock value of watching an expensive bike lock being defeated so quickly and quietly with an unskilled attack.”

VanderZanden says the whole episode is, “Not that big of a deal from a technical point of view. It’s just an unfortunate PR hassle.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

118 Comments
  • Avatar
    Gerry December 12, 2018 at 11:21 am

    Kickstarted bike lock companies lie about the strength of their locks. In other news, grass is green and water is wet.

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    Scott H December 12, 2018 at 11:23 am

    The biggest problem this seems to create for Ottolock is that it makes Ottolock’s tin snip demonstration appear misleading and deceitful at best.

    If a bunch of people bought the Ottolock with the expectation that it couldn’t be defeated in 2 seconds with a pair of tin snips that almost every bike thief carries, and that turns out to be false advertising, this could become a nightmare for Ottolock.

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      Harald December 12, 2018 at 11:27 am

      Looking back at original review here, Ted also mentioned this:
      “I wish they’d send a sample of it to BikePortland or BikeIndex for destructive testing. I inquired and was told ‘no’.”

      https://bikeportland.org/2017/07/20/portland-born-and-raised-the-ottolock-hits-a-bike-security-sweet-spot-234675#comment-6816880

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        Chris I December 12, 2018 at 1:09 pm

        Red flag. Red flag…

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      gl. December 12, 2018 at 11:49 am

      Exactly. The videos convinced me to buy the lock.

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      Treppy December 12, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      Refusal to provide independent parties with test products is a red flag. These deceptive kickstarter companies need to learn their lesson with a good old-fashioned lawsuit. I’ve had nightmares with companies failing to deliver or respond to inquiries that were only recitified when lawyers get involved. False advertising is illegal and Kickstarter does not make you immune to the concequences of shady business tactics.

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    • Avatar
      DalePalmer December 12, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      Definitely, the only other possibility I could think of is The Lock Picking Lawyers lock possibly being a knockoff.

      I do think Otto lock’s video is a little suspect though, on the first pair of snips there appears to be buff marks. Then the second pair doesn’t catch the blades at all, just binds. Which in LPL’s video he uses a pair of tin snips that are more widely used because they are less likely to bind (because of the bolt mechanism he speaks of tightening in the video). The bolt cutters not cutting it makes me definitely think it’s faked, or skewed.

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      grannygear December 12, 2018 at 3:09 pm

      Misleading advertising in the bicycling industry?????
      INCONCEIVABLE!!
      All the right buzz words though: lighter, stronger, faster!

      Recommended Thumb up 9

      • Avatar
        Dave December 13, 2018 at 8:53 am

        A wise gent named Keith once said it this way–“Light, cheap, strong–you get to pick two of those.”

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          Steve Scarich December 13, 2018 at 9:18 am

          or, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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    John Lascurettes December 12, 2018 at 11:24 am

    $50+ is pretty steep for “better than nothing.”

    His video got me curious. I’ve been using the other local lock, TiGr, for my rides and have been loving its weight savings. The Lock-picking Lawyer picked the lock itself (but didn’t show any defeat of the strap) moderately easily. That’s a bummer, but it did involve a specialized piece of lock-picking equipment and some learned skills. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOYAF_E9aU0

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      Jeff S(egundo) December 12, 2018 at 11:35 am

      JL, thanx for the tip on the TiGr. For rides where I want compact/lightweight, and “better than nothing” , I use a retractable cable 5 oz. mini combo lock, available at most lock shops for $10 or so. When I use it, my bike is not out of my sight, because it is only marginally better than nothing. Really only deters impulse thefts. You could probably bite through the cable if it was a matter of supreme urgency…

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        John Lascurettes December 12, 2018 at 12:06 pm

        I’ve been pretty happy with the TiGr mini actually. I feel comfortable enough to go into a restaurant or doctor’s appointment when using it (as in leave my bike unattended for a bit). And since it’s flexible when it’s not held by the lock itself, It makes it that much easier to pop off the front wheel and lock both wheels and frame if I’m feeling extra paranoid.

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          Daniel S December 13, 2018 at 2:35 pm

          Wirecutter was able to cut the TiGr with bolt cutters. They also said it could be hacksawed in under 30 seconds. It’s definitely better than the Otto. But it’s probably little more secure than a cable lock.

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            soren December 14, 2018 at 12:55 pm

            kryptonite series 2 lock and bolt cutters. there are lots of examples of this some take much less time.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tId2j4O-z-Q&t=98s

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              colton December 14, 2018 at 3:09 pm

              If you’re suggesting that the ottolock is comparable to the series 2 based on that video, I’m not buying it. That guy worked his arse off (with a very large bolt cutter) to defeat the ulock. Based on the ottolock video, it looks like a one-arm 100 lb grandma could defeat one with a 8″ shear.

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        GlowBoy December 12, 2018 at 12:07 pm

        That’s my strategy, too. I lock the rear wheel with a U lock Sheldon-style (combined with a locking front skewer) for commute or shopping trips. But I’ll ditch the U lock and carry a $10 combo cable lock for recreational rides in moderate-theft areas where I expect only restroom/snack/unplanned stops.

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    • Avatar
      DalePalmer December 12, 2018 at 1:24 pm

      I caught this video a couple weeks ago, it made me a little worried about TiGr locks.

      https://youtu.be/WZ0UCzi0Tpg?t=856

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      • Avatar
        John Lascurettes December 12, 2018 at 3:58 pm

        Ah poop.

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        • Avatar
          John Lascurettes December 12, 2018 at 4:05 pm

          Going back to the heavy hardened steel U-lock then.

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          • Avatar
            9watts December 13, 2018 at 10:49 am

            Never felt motivated to use anything else in thirty two years.
            And with an unattractive (now) thirty three year old bike I’ve so far fared well.

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          • Avatar
            soren December 14, 2018 at 12:52 pm

            carbide grit hacksaws also cut through u-locks fairly easily.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgHxV2iCcQs&t=79s

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            • Avatar
              9watts May 31, 2019 at 12:36 pm

              I thought we all agreed that this was an arms race. Your lock will serve you very well if it is better than the guy parked next to you’s lock. I welcome the day when everyone uses a U-lock. I guarantee that bike theft will have declined as we asymptotically approach that condition.

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    • Avatar
      soren December 12, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      My problem with TiGr locks is that locking mechanism rusts out and become unusable (and, yes, i lubricated them with graphite as instructed by tigr). I like the lock enough that I’ll probably buy a bunch of the locking mechanisms keyed to the same key. But this adds a lot of cost to the ownership of the lock.

      Also not local:
      TiGr Lock
      24 Cokesbury Rd.
      Lebanon, NJ 08833

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        John Lascurettes December 12, 2018 at 4:21 pm

        I’ve had the Mini+ for about a year, no sign of rust so far. Not sure why I’m having better luck. I mean, I rarely lock it up in the rain, but I’m riding in the rain all the time with the lock in the holder.

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          soren December 13, 2018 at 11:49 am

          my mini+ lock is fine. it’s the two much older mini locks that have rusted out locking mechanisms. in one case the keyed cylinder that pops up no longer locks at all.

          PS: I ride through pools of salted road slime much of the rainy season ( access roads to ohus are brined constantly). it’s my guess that tigr used non-rust-resistant parts in the locking cylinder. moreover, the open design of the lock carrier allows spray to directly enter the lock cylinder. some very poor design choices.

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    bikeninja December 12, 2018 at 11:32 am

    I became interested in a bike lock design like this ( laminated layers of steel strip and kevlar) and made a couple of prototypes myself about 7 years ago. It was very promising when attempts were made to cut it with bolt cutters, but I lost my enthusiasm when I tried a high quality pair of aviation (tin) snips. I gave up on the idea and I had hoped that Ottolock had worked the bugs out. Looks like this locks only real use is to prevent a snatch and grab when the roadies are sitting a few feet away from their carbon bikes at the patio of the coffee shop.

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      I wear many hats December 14, 2018 at 8:46 am

      That is exactly what the glorified zip tie lock is for, coffee stops, and nothing else. This video just states the obvious.

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    Columbo December 12, 2018 at 11:38 am

    At least two friends have lost a bike thanks to an OttoLock, here’s one. Note the crude knife left behind that was used to cut the strap. These things are useless.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BoZwX2oBlS4/

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  • Avatar
    Gary B December 12, 2018 at 11:50 am

    This isn’t rocket science. Without any doubt tin snips CAN cut thin bands of SS and kevlar. The only question is why are the two parties getting different results. Snips, shears, and scissors work through applying a shear force at the point the blades contact. Thus, the blades don’t need to be very sharp or high quality materials to function (although it makes cutting easier)–they just need to have a well-functioning point of contact between the two blades. If the material between the blades bends, then the shears don’t apply a shear force, and they don’t cut. That happens when the shears have slop that creates a blade gap that the material can fit through. Surely we’ve all struggled to cut paper with sloppy scissors.

    It’s no different here: lockpickinglawyer used quality shears and adjusted them properly to achieve tight tolerances. A lower quality pair, or not well maintained, will have some slop and won’t cut it because the band will just squeeze through.

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    • Avatar
      Craig Giffen December 12, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      Yeah, with some lousy tin snips you could replicate the “wow, this is hard to cut” scenario very easily. Spend an extra $15 on some quality ones and it would be a different story. Source: used cheap tools in an earlier part of my life.

      I also wonder what a cordless angle grinder would due to one of those things.

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        John Lascurettes December 12, 2018 at 12:49 pm

        The Lock-picking Lawyer says he bought the cheapest pair of tin snips available at the hardware store and just made sure the adjustable bolt was tensioned properly. No need for spending an extra $15.

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          Harald December 12, 2018 at 1:44 pm

          Yeah, looks like it’s these 10 bucks snips from Home Depot: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Wiss-Straight-Cut-Aviation-Snips-M3RS/100060795

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          Columbo December 12, 2018 at 2:06 pm

          I’d bet most bike thieves are using tools that they stole from someone’s vehicle / home / business anyway, so retail price isn’t necessarily a barrier. Plus as my earlier comment / link showed, even a crappy knife can cut through these things with enough muscle and leverage.

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            Middle of the Road Guy December 12, 2018 at 7:58 pm

            Careful! We don’t want to offend any bike thieves who don’t steal from cars.

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              Middle of the Road Guy December 12, 2018 at 7:58 pm

              or home or business.

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          Stephen Keller December 13, 2018 at 5:58 am

          My first look at the marketing video suggested to me that the pivot bolt on the shears had been loosened a little, rendering the shears inoperable.

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      • Avatar
        Steve Scarich December 13, 2018 at 9:21 am

        I got through a U-Lock in about 2 minutes with a cordless dremel wheel. btw it was my own bike that I found on the Eugene Mall decades ago. Oh, and about 20 citizens walked by as I cut, without batting an eye.

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    • Avatar
      Ted Timmons (Contributor) December 12, 2018 at 5:13 pm

      I have the snips and a grinder and other tools and an ‘otto. In the past I’ve not wanted to destroy my ‘otto because I use it occasionally, but I’m ready. Hoping Maus will come and film it.

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      • Avatar
        Johnny Bye Carter December 13, 2018 at 8:55 am

        I also offered to give him my Ottolock to try cutting it himself if he’d film it.

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    John Thurston December 12, 2018 at 11:52 am

    I bought an OTTOlock in late 2017. I really wanted to like it, and was willing to accept it might be cut. It turned out, however, to be far worse than that and I packaged it for return the same day it arrived.

    My experience indicated it was easier and faster to open blind than by sight.

    The way this lock works is:
    A pawl engages in a toothed band
    A pin keeps the pawl engaged in the band
    A button moves the pin away so the band can be moved
    A 3-dial lock keeps the button from moving

    ’tis all nice, except the ‘lock’ is completely vulnerable to pressure picking. All it requires is pinching the button with one thumb, while rolling the dials with the other thumb. When the secret notch in the first dial aligns with button, it stops rotating and the button advances just a bit until it hits the second dial. Rotate the second dial until it stops. Repeat for the third. It is literally a five-second process. It is faster to unlock this thing by feel in the dark, than by trying to rotate the dials by sight.

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    howrad December 12, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    I bought two of these locks. I quickly noticed that I could crack the combo on one in about 30 seconds by slightly depressing the button and feeling when the tumblers hit the right number. I put it on a coworker’s desk, asked him to try it, he also unlocked it easily.

    I emailed Ottolock, and they promptly responded and said they’d tighten the manufacturing tolerances, and they sent me a replacement lock which I wasn’t able to crack by feel. While I appreciate the great customer service, I have little confidence in the locks because who knows how many other ones have loose tolerances and can be cracked by feel. 10? 100? 1000?

    I wouldn’t trust one of these for more than a 1 minute gas station stop during a road ride, and even then, hopefully within sight of the bike.

    I echo the comments that they should’ve vetted the product with security testers. These locks don’t inspire the confidence that the price tag belies.

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    • Avatar
      Todd Boulanger December 12, 2018 at 8:23 pm

      I love combo locks for bike locking …no key to carry or loose, BUT you really need 4 digits minimum if you park longer than 60 minutes. I bought a locked suitcase once and it look only 120 minutes of rolling through almost ALL the combos to get it open.
      (The bump feel trick did not work to find one digit and reduce it to 1 or 2 rows of the numbers.)

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    PS December 12, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    **Packs up Otto lock that just showed up and sends back to Amazon**

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    Ben December 12, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    According to The Wirecutter’s review, the TiGr mini is vulnerable to bolt cutters. Definitely better than nothing, but I wouldn’t use it in the city.

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    • Avatar
      Chris I December 12, 2018 at 1:13 pm

      Titanium is a bad material to use for bike locks. Too soft to justify the weight savings (not to mention the cost).

      Signed,

      Aerospace Manufacturing Engineer

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        Middle of The Road Guy December 13, 2018 at 9:15 am

        It sure makes for a nice bike frame though.

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          Chris I December 13, 2018 at 4:09 pm

          Indeed. I wish I could afford one!

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    Jacob L Rathe December 12, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    As a co-creator of this lock I want to give some background on what it is designed for. The OTTOLOCK was designed to be a bicycle accessory that you can take on any ride. A key distinction is that if you are wearing spandex and have clip-in pedals, the ottolock is probably appropriate. That could be stopping for a coffee, a burrito, beer, bathroom break or whatever else on rides of any length. Cyclists makes stops like this often on a variety of rides. If you are wearing jeans and tennis shoes on a ride to dinner, a hefty lock is a reasonable item to bring, and you should.
    The OTTOLOCK has the weight and dimensions of a tube, and an optional mount to carry it securely on any bike. Our goal was to fit the characteristics of other bike accessories – pump, saddle bag, lights, etc. These are all made to integrate with the bike in a light and compact manner and be convenient to access on a ride. Since OTTOLOCK began, thousands of people are riding with a lock who used to not ride with one at all. ​We used to look anxiously looking out the window to keep an eye on our bikes, which were free for the taking on the sidewalk. (A bike is a great escape vehicle btw).
    The video by Lockpickinglawyer is concerning to me. I still don’t know how he cut it with such ease, and I’ve attacked the ottolock with every tool available, including the shears he used. I’m not suspecting foul play, but most people would not get that result.

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      Chris I December 12, 2018 at 1:21 pm

      Watching the 2016 video linked above, it is pretty clear that the tin snips are not being used properly. The snips are closed with the lock placed much closer to the open end, which increases the deflection, creating space between the shears. If you were to open the shears a bit more and slide the lock down to the pinch point before squeezing, you would likely see the same results we are seeing in the embedded video above. I guess we can chalk this one up to user error?

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      Black finger December 12, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      I beg to differ. I work at a local shop here in Portland. I just cut one with a cheap pair of tin snips quicker than the lockpickinglawyer. I would say it took me 1/2 a second.

      It’s harder to cut while the lock is “loose” around a bike. If it’s held firm, it can be cut like a knife through hot butter. This lock is for quick in and out coffee shop stops while the bike is still in eye sight. It does serve that purpose well, just don’t use it at 4 am under the Morrison Bridge.

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        Middle of The Road Guy December 13, 2018 at 9:16 am

        What happens under the Morrison Bridge at 4am?

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      Columbo December 12, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      You’re attempting to split hairs here. Here’s a pic of my friend’s OTTOLOCK again. As I understand it, the bike was locked to a car rack and stolen in the few seconds while he was inside a gas station, bike barely out of sight. I don’t see how that’s any different than your suggested uses for your product, like during “a coffee, a burrito, beer, bathroom break”:

      https://www.instagram.com/p/BoZwX2oBlS4/

      Furthermore, the implement used to cut it was a knife, a rather crude-looking one, at that.

      The other theft I know of happened when the bike owner ran into a grocery store for a few minutes. Appeared to have been cut with a knife / saw hand implement with serrated edges.

      Forget the spandex-vs.-jeans angle; What I’m hearing is that OTTOLOCK is only appropriate if one lives in Mayberry, under the careful watch of Andy Griffith and Barney Fife.

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        Steve Scarich December 13, 2018 at 9:23 am

        Have you ever seen a bike racer try to run in road cleats? haha

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          I wear many hats December 14, 2018 at 8:53 am

          Every time I leave my bike unlocked outside the plaid pantry IN Portland, I loosen the skewers, shift both shifters, and attach my helmet to rear wheel and frame. Anyone riding it would eat sh%& instantly and I’d be there to pick up the pieces, even in road cleats. If it involved a foot chase, I’d ditch the shoes.

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      colton December 12, 2018 at 4:05 pm

      Jacob L Rathe-
      “most people would not get that result”

      Talk is cheap. Send one to bikeportland and let Jonathan try and then report back

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      Eric Lang December 12, 2018 at 4:31 pm

      To summarize, “well, its better than no lock at all!”

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        Johnny Bye Carter December 13, 2018 at 8:57 am

        Except it’s not, because of the false sense of security.

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          Steve Scarich December 13, 2018 at 9:45 am

          Yes, that is actually the That’s the real issue here. If they were asked if they truly believed this lock was any good against a pro thief, 99% (if they were honest) would probably say uh No. Witness the comments on this thread where people ‘blame’ the lock for their friends’ bikes being stolen.

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) December 12, 2018 at 5:13 pm

      Jacob, are you in Portland? I’d like to invite you to a casual testing session.

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      Brendan December 12, 2018 at 10:45 pm

      Oh no, please don’t start down this road, it’s only going to make things worse. If thieves carry around tin snips (verified by the Portland Police officer) and the youtube video showed that same tool being used to defeat the lock in 2.5 seconds, your advertisement and statements about testing for such things are just misleading.

      It’s simple enough to say the lock is intended for short stops at locations with a low amount of passerby. Most people considering this lock want to carry with them when they are riding along Skyline or some other rural trek and make a stop at a country store, diner, or to relieve themselves. Embrace that market. But please, don’t try and fool people into taking it downtown and then getting their bike yanked while they are in line for a coffee.

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      9watts December 13, 2018 at 10:56 am

      “The OTTOLOCK was designed to be a bicycle accessory that you can take on any ride.”

      I bought a cafe lock for I think 13€. Maybe we should reconsider our cultural antipathy(?) to these.

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    Beth H December 12, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Racers and wannabe race-reational riders who don’t carry decent locks either aren’t stopping for coffee, or they bring their bike inside. When the store won’t let them, they spend their money somewhere else. The rest of us Freds and Fredettes know bette,r and bring along a U-lock and cable. Anyone trusting their bike security to a steel band easily compromised by $10 tin snips needs a rethink. End of story.

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      David Hampsten December 12, 2018 at 1:24 pm

      I’m looking forward to the Kryptonite “Portland” lock, with a 15/10 rating. I normally carry a NY lock (either regular or Forgetaboutit) with a 7ft cable, both of which the lock lawyer takes several minutes to pick with special tools, so they are also not infallible. But the only time I sincerely worry about thieves is when I visit Portland; Seattle, DC, Chicago, New Orleans, not a problem. And here in NC, our thieves are so completely incompetent they still prefer to steal Huffys over Surlys.

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        Racer X December 12, 2018 at 8:28 pm

        Hey hay hey…dont be bad mouthin’ those 1970s / 1980s Huffys!

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) December 12, 2018 at 5:15 pm

      Fred types ARE stopping for coffee. A lot. You aren’t looking. Here are some sample discussions from GCN talking about it:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hf5jJtNvn-4
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_jjtCLrbak
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9fQcJQoyfg

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        Johnny Bye Carter December 13, 2018 at 9:13 am

        They said that Freds took the bikes with them.

        Your videos do not dispute their claim.

        The first two videos are about the same cafe stop. They take their bikes with them to the tables.

        The 3rd video is a joke video. It’s set at a small cafe in the English countryside on a small dead end side road. Nobody is going to approach their bikes without the Freds seeing, or the old guy with the dog out front saying something.

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    MR December 12, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    I’m shocked that you are shocked by this. It looks like a big zip tie, of course it can be easily snipped through. Like you said (and the company if I’m not mistaken), this isn’t a U-Lock and shouldn’t try to be used as one. The fact that anyone would be surprised by this is concerning.

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      9watts December 13, 2018 at 11:02 am

      Don’t we already have dozens of locks that should not be mistaken for U-locks? I don’t really see the need for increasing the diversity of not very good locks.
      Last I knew we were encouraging our friends to settle for nothing short of a name brand U-lock, and to learn how to use it properly (I.e. not run it only through the front wheel or other similar foolish moves).

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    Tom Howe December 12, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Has anyone had the end of their Ottolock fray? Mine started to do that, and it became impossible to slide the strap into the slot. I was able to clean it up by cutting off some of the plastic coating and exposed Kevlar, but now the end of the strap is pretty sharp. I used to carry around one of those retractable 1/16″ steel cable locks mentioned earlier, but substituted the Ottolock as a secondary lock – always using a U-Lock as primary.

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    TheCowabungaDude December 12, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    Oof…the Fred Meyer victim in your story is a friend of mine. He was very happy with his lock…until his bike was stolen.

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      B. Carfree December 12, 2018 at 7:11 pm

      There’s a line for most of our life stories. It was great, until it wasn’t.

      Hopefully, as my memory gets less (and less, and less…) sharp, I’ll keep the great parts and lose the parts where it changed for the worse.

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    grannygear December 12, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    This lock is dead weight to me as a roadie. My coffee shop window seat lock is my helmet strap buckle around top tube and bike rack or a friend’s bike. Dont want your bike stolen? Dont leave it unattended! If you gotta shop at freddies, hop on your commuter and bring your real lock

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    headfirst December 12, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    Repackage as virginity belt? Only true love will know the combo to my heart!

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    headfirst December 12, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    DalePalmer
    I caught this video a couple weeks ago, it made me a little worried about TiGr locks.https://youtu.be/WZ0UCzi0Tpg?t=856Recommended 2

    lol at his shock at how easy the bolt cutters went thru

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    Ted Buehler December 12, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    Jacob wrote:

    “I still don’t know how he cut it with such ease, and I’ve attacked the ottolock with with every tool available…”

    Jacob — have you headed over to the local freeway overpass and asked some of the bike-chopping locals if they could demonstrate whether their tools could cut your lock?

    Apparently it’s not just the type of tool used, it’s the skill of the user.

    Ted Buehler

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      Christian Alexandrov December 13, 2018 at 2:12 am

      If you can squeeze a pair of tinsnips, that’s all the skill you need to cut ottolock

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    grannygear December 12, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    $350,000 in crowd funding for a lock cut by a $15 set of fred meyer tin snips.
    This is why I loath crowd funding.

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      9watts December 13, 2018 at 11:04 am

      Maybe crowdfunding is just a particularly effective way of revealing the gullibility of many of our fellow Homo sapiens?

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    B. Carfree December 12, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    I’m feeling better about my decision to not bring any lock with me on most joy rides. Then again, the coffee I stop to drink was made at home and put into a hydroflask because there aren’t any coffee shops in the forests where I joy ride.

    If anyone sees a bear or a cougar riding around on either a newish steel tandem or a forty-year-old steel touring bike, be sure to let someone know how I perished.

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    JJ December 12, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    Can YOU SAY CLASS ACTION? Wasn’t there also a PPB video of officers being impressed with the lock too somewhere?

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    commuter December 12, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    I was really suspicious of this lock when it was relentlessly hyped by large group of bloggers who seemed to have no first hand experience with the product

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    Todd Boulanger December 12, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    This is why groups of roadie riders need to hire and bring a valet along of their rides…to watch their bikes instead of carrying 200 lbs of locks. This is why i always loved BikeLink shared lockers…and marketed them to roadies back in 00’s. Carry a 2 oz BikeLink card instead of a lock that weights as much as your bike. 😉

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    Jay December 12, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    Does anyone remember when they came out with this pile of garbage, the Otto Tuner. I had the misfortune of sitting through a demo of this item when I used to work at a local bike shop. It came up with different numbers each time, then their rep got angry when we asked
    questions. It was super akward. This company should go away and quit ripping people off https://bikerumor.com/2016/06/15/otto-tuner-2-0-updates-derailleur-adjustment-app/

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      9watts December 13, 2018 at 11:07 am

      Hahahahaha.
      A smart phone ap to adjust your derailleur?!
      What happened to a Philips screwdriver?

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    Christian Alexandrov December 13, 2018 at 2:05 am

    Following the first claim of manufacturer, advertising security targeted product as being cut proof, implies that this product deliver high degree of security. The backing off from the manufacturer saying it is only for quick stops or secondary deterrent, is only way for the manufacturer to try to escape without being hurt, showing is dishonesty while doing so.

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    Resopmok December 13, 2018 at 7:00 am

    A piece of string which you can use to tie your bike to a bike rack also prevents the opportunist from just grabbing your bike as they walk by. It’s also lighter and easier to fit in your saddle bag or back pocket, though you do have to learn to tie knots. Why pay $$ when most of us have some type of string just lying around the house?

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      Dan A December 13, 2018 at 9:20 am

      I’ve attached a hornet nest to the underside of my saddle. Seems to keep people away from my bike.

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        9watts December 13, 2018 at 11:08 am

        That sounds like a great idea. I think you should try a Kickstarter campaign…..

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        resopmok December 13, 2018 at 7:27 pm

        I bet the hornets really help your strava times too.. yowza!

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    TBH December 13, 2018 at 8:21 am

    New Otto motto: “It’s twice as good as nothing!”

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    OldRider December 13, 2018 at 9:10 am

    just because it’s “made in Oregon” is no guarantee of quality. 🙁

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    rainbike December 13, 2018 at 9:39 am

    “It’s just an unfortunate PR hassle.”
    Really?

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    Shimran George December 13, 2018 at 11:32 am

    I do not get this holier-than-thou attitude towards some us who did buy this lock under the assumption it was stronger than a standard lock. Apparently what was obvious to you is not obvious to many. I am sure there are situations where the opposite is the case.

    I apologize, I have a job–and simply have neither have the time nor money to put products through the ringer and do extensive testing. I bought the OttoLock based on this review by BikePortland (I was suspicious myself):
    https://bikeportland.org/2017/07/20/portland-born-and-raised-the-ottolock-hits-a-bike-security-sweet-spot-23467

    I do look to reputable sources to do this for me and between the BP review and the Ottolock video, I thought they figured out how to make the design work for short periods. This is not a knock on BikePortland–I love this site, and I am glad they posted this blog to warn us as well. It definitely in my opinion shows integrity to at least bring up the discussion that there might be a problem with a product, glowingly reviewed a few months earlier.

    Keep in mind: “Stronger than a cable lock, more convenient than a u-lock” and “I was $6,000 confident enough for 15 minutes with the OttoLock” –these are the expectations I locked my bike up with the Ottolock, and thankfully my bike was not stolen. The new video shows that these expectations are null and void. I never thought it was supposed to be as strong as a U-lock, I did think it would be stronger than a cable lock. It was also a positive that it was an Oregon company, and made in the USA. Yes, those are things I try to be conscious of to support my local economy/country.

    I guess my point is: please get off your high horses and understand that some people make reasonable choices based on product reviews, and thought Ottolock had found a way to hit a sweet spot between portability and security that fits a lot of use cases. I am thankful I was able to get a refund. I hope Ottolock can correct this issue in some fashion.

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      Steve December 13, 2018 at 11:59 am

      I don’t think anyone’s intention was to blame the buyer, only to point out the misleading advertising campaign.
      +1 on giving BP credit for bringing this to our attention.

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        Eric H December 13, 2018 at 3:52 pm

        “+1 on giving BP credit for bringing this to our attention.” Really? They got called out on it in the original post (https://bikeportland.org/2017/07/20/portland-born-and-raised-the-ottolock-hits-a-bike-security-sweet-spot-23467) that gushed all over it. They had to respond and get the manufacturer’s response.

        And I quote, “If you’re a cyclist, buy one. Heck, buy two!”. Yeah, buy two so two of your bikes can be stolen by someone with a pair of tin snips while you pop into a large supermarket for 15 minutes to buy a loaf of bread. If you’re JBucky, that is. If you’re someone who happened to lock their bike up with one of these “locks” while you popped into a large supermarket for 10 minutes to grab some BBQ supplies then you get what you deserve because that’s not how it was sold by either the manufacturer or BP.

        Just glad I never fell for this product.

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      Jim Kysela December 13, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Hey Shimran,
      How did you go about getting a refund? Still have my original card it came attached to when buying from RCB, but that was probably a year ago? Like you, I had friends recommend this and also remember the good BikePDX story on it. Knowing of Jacob Rathe with a couple degrees of separation (Portland, his Dad was sometimes in my wife’s yoga classes), felt really good about this when purchasing. I also encouraged a friend at work to buy one of these. Figured this to be a great fit for those quick stops for coffee, groceries etc. Sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case, and for $50+ could have gotten quite a few better cable locks (or one more good U-lock!) that can still be easily cut by other tools. Guess I’m much luckier than the others who have lost good bikes with the feeling that this ‘protection’ was tougher to cut through than other cable/strap locks. A bit sad all around.

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    J_R December 13, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    I was really tempted to buy this lock during the crowdfunding stage, in part to support the Oregon bicycle industry. I simply didn’t get around to it. That turns out to have been a lucky chance.

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    headfirst December 13, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    commuter
    I was really suspicious of this lock when it was relentlessly hyped by large group of bloggers who seemed to have no first hand experience with the productRecommended 7

    The perfect mix of bloggers not being critical(in pursuit of more free stuff to review), Crowdfunding a product too good to be true, and labeling it for “elite riders” looking for lightweight solutions at a premium price.
    This should have been sold as a convenience strap, not a “security lock”.
    Designed behind a keyboard, tested by blided believers and hyped by eager “vloggers.”
    Dont let them spin that this is designed for peeing in spandex behind a hay bail 20 miles from a thief. Thats really justy talking down to your friends here in Portland and quit disingenuous.
    Perhaps they can repackage it for minimalist social media influences looking to security strap titanium coffee cups to their $80k sprinter vans off grid? #vanlife

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    Craig M Collins December 13, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    It’s all about tooling. Not surprised that the lock-maker’s harbor freight tools couldn’t cut the strap where a set of WISS snips cut it like butter. Any pair of Klein wire snips would make short work of cutting this strap.

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    Lester Burnham December 13, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    Anybody thinking of designing a new lock should consult the operators of the open air bike chops operating freely throughout the city. I’m sure they are a wealth of information.

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    Garito December 13, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    I’m not sure why BikePortland.org can’t buy the lock themselves and do their own test. Or can one of the skeptics here please provide one for him to test? And stop by Home Depot for some tin snips, too.

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    hotrodder December 13, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Just change the packaging.
    Instead of the “Ottolock” call it the “Ottocafestrap”. or “Ottogetareallock” . or “Ottokeepyoureyespeeled.

    Remember, “It’s better than nothing!”

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    Doug Klotz December 14, 2018 at 12:44 am

    I’m surprised at the Ottolock Kickstarter video. They didn’t use tin snips or aviation shears at all. They used bolt cutters, and a pair of diagonal cutting pliers. These are both meant to cut things that are round in cross-section. The lock-picking lawyer, on the other hand, used a tool meant for the flat, sheet metal-like construction of the Ottolock. That is, aviation snips, of the most well-known and readily available brand, Wiss. (These are better than clunkier “tin snips”, which no-one has used here). Now it may be true that thieves are more likely to have bolt cutters, but that doesn’t stop those with a little more tool knowledge.

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      J_R December 14, 2018 at 10:36 am

      You need to watch the Otto video again. They demonstrate using tin snips at 0:32 and ending at 0:46.

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        Doug Klotz December 16, 2018 at 2:33 pm

        Sorry. I was watching their Kickstarter video. I see they did use tin snips and yes, the lock strap kinked sideways in them. Tin snips have that tendency if you don’t hold the work at 90 degrees or if the bolt is loose. But the aviation snips used by LPL (which give you more leverage and a tighter cut) do seem to do the job.

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    Stinky December 15, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    Dave
    A wise gent named Keith once said it this way–“Light, cheap, strong–you get to pick two of those.”Recommended 1

    And this Ottolock only seems to get one of the three (light).

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    CL December 16, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    Just cut mine into a few pieces. Average time, 11 seconds. With some snips that I received from my grandfather. Not even willing to lock my kids bike at school in a pinch with one of these.

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    Thybountyhunter May 24, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    They brought out a new and improved version of the lock….and it failed in 2 seconds.

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    InsaneFirebat May 24, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    Why would you recommend this lock after the company refused the destructive testing sample? Does that not trigger any red flags in your head? This reflects just as poorly on you (bikeportland) as it does to the ripoff lock company.

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    A. Nuran May 26, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Ottolock’s response to the LPL’s second video where he cuts through the strap with the same pair of tin snips was to disable comments on or take down their own videos. This does not inspire confidence in the product.

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    John May 27, 2019 at 10:50 am

    DalePalmer
    Definitely, the only other possibility I could think of is The Lock Picking Lawyers lock possibly being a knockoff. I do think Otto lock’s video is a little suspect though, on the first pair of snips there appears to be buff marks. Then the second pair doesn’t catch the blades at all, just binds. Which in LPL’s video he uses a pair of tin snips that are more widely used because they are less likely to bind (because of the bolt mechanism he speaks of tightening in the video). The bolt cutters not cutting it makes me definitely think it’s faked, or skewed.Recommended 11

    Bolt cutters are a different animal made for cutting — bolts and similar cylindrical objects such as lock shackles and chain links. They are abysmal at cutting sheet material such as sheet metal. I wouldn’t expect bolt cutters to cut the OttoLock as they’re not designed for cutting a strap like that. Nor would I expect a small cable cutter or diagonal cutters for cutting wire to cut it either. Nothing fake about the Lock Picking Lawyer. What’s fake is Bucky Boy.

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    John May 27, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Bucky Boy won’t be able to steal your bike, but at least half the bike thieves in Portland can, and they can do it in two seconds or less. VanderZanden should tell the dude who lost his $1500 Surly Ogre to a pair of tin snips in a couple seconds that their design failure is only a “PR hassle” — to his face. The Lock Picking Lawyer made just as short work of the Hexband in two seconds. 2.5x the metal only needed two hands instead of one. It’s only a matter of time before the FTC catches up with Otto Design Works for false advertising. Any claim that their OttoLock Hexband provides any level of security is blatantly false on its face. Those that lost bikes to the OttoLock being less than worthless should be taking Otto Design Works to small claims court for their losses.

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    ParanoidBiker May 28, 2019 at 10:11 am

    I looked into this lock a while ago and it was clear to me it wasn’t good protection for even a quick stop. I use hand tools from time to time so their bad attempts to cut it made me chuckle. I’ve had bikes stolen before, so I did a little more looking. I wanted reasonable security without the boat anchor. If you’re willing to carry 1.6 pounds, the Kryptonite New U Evolution Lite Mini-6 is very strong, hard to pick (for anyone not lockpickinglawyer), and pretty compact. Yet I’ve never *not* been able to find a place to lock up my fat-tube bike with it. Sure, an angle-grinder will get through it, but that’s the same for every lock, and this one will at least take 2x cuts. Because it’s small, thieves run the risk of cutting the frame too, so it’s probably a lot easier to just keep walking until they find the next ottolock around the weight-weenie’s colnago. (Then wait until he turns his head and go.) Better yet, register the thing and Kryptonite will give you several year’s theft coverage. The only final protection is an insurance payout, unfortunately.

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    Quinn May 30, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Well, there’s a new one out, and it appears to get cut just as easily. I understand Ottolock has a profit incentive here, but it seems like they should just be open and transparent about their lock being essentially a light deterrent rather than any kind of security – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D15QH72xfPA&feature=youtu.be

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    was carless May 30, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    Use this lock instead:

    http://www.onguardlock.com/bruteseries

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvn3_CNVSFs

    I’ve had one for 11 years now (early model) and it is 4.5 pounds of pure, hardened steel. Cold enough to turn away any bike thief.

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